Councillors have backed the purchase of a mystery Huddersfield town centre building – but the public will have to wait to find out which one it is.
The building, which has tenants, is in the so-called Cultural Heart near the Piazza Centre – also recently bought by Kirklees Council – and Queensgate Market.
The council’s Cabinet has agreed to press ahead with a deal to buy the building but the details remain confidential.
At a meeting of the Cabinet, Green group leader and town centre councillor Andrew Cooper asked when the name of the building was going to be made public.
Cabinet member for regeneration Clr Peter McBride said: “In the not too distant future,” and Clr Cooper replied: “For me that’s next week.”
Council leader Shabir Pandor said the identity of the building could not be revealed due to “commercial sensitivity.”
At the same meeting, Cabinet members approved plans to hire consultants to draw up the £250 million Huddersfield Blueprint – and a cost of £1.75 million.
The council has decided not to invite tenders and will sign a deal with Leeds-based Turner & Townsend and London-based Mace.
When legal and property agency costs are also added consultancy fees are likely to top £6.5 million and some councillors have questioned whether that is money well spent.
Clr Pandor defended the agreement saying it represented “good value for money.”
He referred to the pandemic and how “billions were wasted” by the Government on PPE because no-one scrutinised the spending.
“This bid will be scrutinised,” he said. “And if they don’t deliver at the first gateway they will be off the job.”
Clr Pandor said the Blueprint was “very exciting” and the cultural offer – thought to include a live music venue – could make Huddersfield a “24-hour town.”
He added, boldly: “We will be the best town in this country.”
Clr Cooper repeatedly asked for the Cabinet to consider a wider involvement of other groups and suggested the formation of a town board involving the likes of Huddersfield Civic Society, HD1 and the University of Huddersfield.
Clr Pandor gave no such commitment but said he would “talk to anyone” to make the Blueprint a reality.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, on the back of the pandemic, to put Kirklees on the map,” he said. “After 10 years of austerity and £200 million in cuts to our revenue we still mean business.”